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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Adventure Time: Islands is an eight-episode miniseries that tells a story about characters from the animated show Adventure Time. Focused on friendship and emotional journeys, the series has a gentle enough tone for younger kids. Though they may not catch nuances, they'll still love the candy-colored animation and absurd visual jokes. Violence tends to be of the supernatural/sci-fi type: Giant walking gumdrops shoot an alien ship with green rays, a giant undersea god sucks a ship under the water. Though characters may yell "Oww!," they're usually knocked down and not injured and killed. There's no cursing but some insulting language such as "You suck so much."
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What's the story?
A mysterious alien ship washes up on the shores of an Ooo beach, launching ADVENTURE TIME: ISLANDS. The ship is looking for humans, Susan Strong (Jackie Buscarino) in particular, though the ship is also interested in Finn (Jeremy Shada). But before the ship can tell the humans why it came, Jake (John DiMaggio) smashes it and sends the trio of friends on an odyssey across the ocean. Susan remembers a distant, traumatic past on an island with humans like her; Finn's roots, too, are connected with the island Susan remembers only in visions. What will the two of them find when they reach their destination? And how will it change the rest of their lives?
Is it any good?
This enchanting entry in the Adventure Time world deepens emotional stakes while serving up absurdity and relatable pain in turns. Finn's past has been alluded to on Adventure Time but never fully explored; here it is: his parents, his upbringing, how he came to Ooo, all wrapped up in an a tale of an epic journey with friends.
It wouldn't be Adventure Time unless it were deeply silly, and it is: Sea creatures talk (and talk, droning on about their ideas for children's books), giant candy monsters guard a seashore, weather attacks, and jellyfish make you see visions but can be punched into the sky. Islands is silly enough, in fact, for very young kids, yet rich and deep enough for adults, who will enjoy seeing nods to sci-fi alternate-reality movies and books such as Mothra, The Matrix, and Ready Player One.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss how Adventure Time: Islands compares to the real world. What aspects of Finn, Susan, and Jake's world are rooted in fantasy? Is any of it relevant to the real world? What place does fantasy have in entertainment? Does entertainment always have to have a strong message, or can it just be fun?
Why do characters sometimes use weapons or violence to solve problems? What would happen in real life if a kid used the same kinds of weapons? Do you think it's funny to watch mild violence like this? Can you separate the show's use of weapons with what's appropriate in real life?
- In theaters: January 21, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: January 24, 2017
- Cast: Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Hynden Walch
- Directors: Andres Salaff, Bong Hee Han, Elizabeth Ito
- Studio: Cartoon Network
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Ocean Creatures
- Character strengths: Courage, Empathy, Teamwork
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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